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Web Serial: L&R #2: CHAPTER SIX: RUN, AQUARIAN RUN

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CHAPTER SIX:

RUN, AQUARIAN RUN


The burly man hacked up a cough. “All I have to say is, yur lucky ya weren’t the one breaking and enterin’, Aquarian,” he trailed off before carrying on with some rolling laughter. Some of his words seemed to almost transform into different ones before he corrected his slur and finally verbalized like they should. “Even so, you ought be cautious where you are wandering. No one summoned you in, and here you are, still faltering and stumbling. We can’t quite make him suffocate, though. Can we, present madam?”

“Yes. The Aquarian one is belligerent. Crowding our spaces,” said the veiled woman, slithering.

“Well, I wouldn’t go that far. Not quite as belligerent compared to how the Victoria was. But this one, he’s quite alluring inside,” said the burly man.

“No. What lies inside of what’ll be left of him, that is where the beauty hangs in the balance. I desire to see it, to drink from it.”

“He thinks there is wisdom in his beliefs.”

The two apparitions continued to talk, but LJ could hear nothing. Calling his dead girlfriend belligerent was one thing altogether, but using the word was at the end of his sentence, that was the icing on a big-fat cake.

Why are they talking at me, and not too me? I’m not even supposed to be here. Vic didn’t deserve to die like this, he echoed strong words inside of his own head.

Vic had been the absolute best; She stuck with him through all this, and now it all meant nothing. LJ’s mind, body and spirit triggered an internal urgency to move and to move fast. His pool float body wet, heavy and uncomfortable, he glanced back and forth at the two apparitions. An emotion so strong, so rabid; a cunning realization you were in too deep, somewhere you didn’t belong and somewhere that magnified the atrocious into an arrogant, explosive, mother-effigy that ultimately took the life of LJ’s first love, Victoria. So sad.

I’M NOT WEAK, this time he yelled at himself internally, echoing the warranted brashness through synapses and memory. I’m not a fool. I must. Find. The. Strength. To. Push. Forward. Haarooo-rah!

The center of his energy, if it was even ever purposely focused on internally, most notably had always been between his eyes before this moment, but then LJ felt his center shifting from the Ajna ( in between the eyes ) down to the Manipura, ( in the solar plexus ) also known as the chakras, the energy centers in the body that are always purely spiritual. The energy centers in the body could never be proven, but they were there by God. In LJ, they became a contortion of mind, body, soul and also a-from-outside, universal in-pouring of benevolent gifts in the form of energy, caustic to his personal calcination experience. However, not having been induced directly by himself, it was inferior to some other methods.

As he controlled his wet, neoprene body in order to prevent an internal meltdown, his bones turned into red-hot flashing things, vaping off anything that was absolutely not needed to cope with his mere existence including the less than favorable, dream-like neoprene body. Rubbish it would seem lifted, split and expanded from his body into the thick air. All the previous pressures being evaporated away: what he was, all that he had absorbed before now, it had become a part of what simply wasn’t needed anymore. And, it returned as it should be, as the bits returned as flesh, then wrapped his bones once again, surrounding LJ’s brief exposed internals, sheathing him proper once again.

He would serve as a first of his kind, an Archetect, a living, first prime example if he was to make it back out of this thing in one piece. The rest of what was left combined in his stomach, the solar plexus of Good, swirling madness. Existence hurdled LJ forward in a fit of mad rage and as a physical, fight or flight mechanism to prevent stasis of blood from the immense pressure surrounding him. Muscle memory was a bitch and nothing about this happening was a think-and-do situation anymore, at least for the the next for-seeable future. Only do. The dichotomy that had once taken a small place inside him were now irrevocably broken. No longer a record player. Thank, God.

Go far away and be small, he cringed. In his mind he pictured the burly man and then redacted the thought in light of moving forward.

LJ’s peripherals could see his arms, legs and torso were now made of proper flesh, this was nothing new to be had or lost, just simply different and the clothes he wore before his previous transformation, now on him.

So very well, he ran and did so with extreme precision, over the top of the rubbish that was beyond the pool. Jumping, dripping with sweat as he leapt from top-to-top of piling concrete rubbish, not faltering and never without a misstep as he went. Did he do this strictly on his own accord? Not hardly at all. No one ever did. Some sort of God must have been involved, if not number one, himself. He heard mummers of talking in the distance. Sometimes laughing.

However, his powerful rage was somewhat short-lived in relation to how he felt moments ago. Approaching an outward cropping of misty air with twisty, crooked trees and spinedy brush, he pounced forward but became quickly hollow.

“Ouch.”, LJ said as he took a step further onto yet more thorny tree extraments. “Argh! Argo asloff mein-duction boo loo!!! GRR-AH!”, his voice echoed off of trees and painful, distant effigies.

Nothing happened because of these tonguey words about cocktails with flowers in them and especially not one of those pink umbrellas. He hated pink umbrellas in a drink. They got dirty and when pink mixed with dirt, it was the worst thought he had since this whole thing started.

A heavy, hunched hard breath cascaded atoms from within and a hard knot in his throat from the transformation. Why were the feet so sensitive? It must have been the shoes’ fault. Although they weren’t on LJ’s feet anymore. No one could have ran like that and kept their shoes on. No one! Not even here. He ripped his shirt off, starting at the center of his collarbone all the way down and then ripped it on the reverse side, just the same. Two pieces of cotton made it around his sensitive feet as a barrier to the thorny tree extraments. 

He could now walk and so he did, through the misty, woody space for some time while the environment twisted and densely contorted the further he walked and he did so without fear.

A tree. A tree that seemed it was once soaked in water, also known as steam bent. All its branches were molded like combed over hair, in one swirling direction. Another tree, made out of taxidermied wolf skins.

No fear, nothing. No emotions. Just a warped environment that seemed to wrap his consciousness and so LJ’s consciousness wrapped it. Comfort. A proverbial blood letting, intertwining and dancing of musical nature. Was he walking at all or was the ground moving underneath him? It wasn’t for the sake of confusion. Quite the opposite, for LJ felt a comfort like no other place had ever shown him. Wretched and beautiful. Complex and simple. Class without the teaching. No teachers. No lessons. The space of this place rang with a vibrato, in through to the space even beyond. He didn’t think at all this moment, but the conscious mind was still open to the fact that he would see Rom very soon. He would reunite Dom with this band and family. He could feel it, deep in his heavy bone marrow.

Dom?!

Over here.

Dom . . .

You come ‘ere.

Yeah.

. . .aiight.

A path. A path ran from right to left and bent with the misty eyed forest on both sides. Which way to go? Right? Left?

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a tiger by his toe. If he hollers, let him go.
Three times four was 12. He was sure of it, but it hardly added up this time. Numbers. The land had no place for numbers, THAT was down-right offensive. Might land you beneath the trees. Down-right? That doesn’t make sense, either.

Makes about as much sense as I do, LJ thought.

The feeling of presence was near, a feeling like Rom’s presence. Could he see him anywhere? No. Couldn’t see him at all. He remembered about a six hundred dollar check he had left at the house, uncashed. As he kept looking at the two different options for travel, left or right of path, his false-dream-like memory told him the check was in his back pocket. Rom was traveling in between the atoms in the dirt, on the hunt for his money check.

Thief! How could he?

Somethings not right at all. Rom wouldn’t do that, LJ internalized.

Wait? Dom! Where was Dom? Dom was in LJ’s comfy crevasse, inside the ridiculous pool float body, but LJ paid no mind to that fact. How could he forget about Dom? Things are so hazy, that’s how. Nothing could be done about it at this moment anyways. Like trying to take a picture at a concert and being moshed. Phone goes flying into oblivion. He wanted to grunt like a grizzly bear again, like he had when he landed in a circle of prickly leaves. It’s just not appropriate for someone to growl like that, not with civil, social reasoning anyway. No one was around, but habits die hard. Really hard. Heaviest thing around.

The money, again. The way it circulates is amazing. Going from hands, to hand, to more hands. It was a sad day when any amount of money sat in no one hands. Frivolous thoughts.

Six hundred dollars in the form of a paper check was a lot! Even for a thief to potentially squander. Better keep moving, LJ’s mind or maybe the environment had told him. He didn’t care which one it was. The future is forward. Or is it? Dream recorder . . . ugh. No one wanted to think about that right now. Offensive.

Which way damnit? The italics were even getting on his nerves, but LJ had no way to know this. Rules were to blame. Problem fixers for stupid problems. People problems. Different mind problems caved through from beyond like bleeding ink off a page, onto a dirty floor where it would never totally be removed and only made a bigger mess on an clean up attempt. Not ever.

He looked down, started moving and a single strand of barbed wire hung  loose, stapled onto adjacent trees, right at genital level. Yeesh. The worst spot to be in. He grabbed himself in between the legs to see if his genitalia was still there at all. Someone told him once that Angels and other worldly beings didn’t have genitalia, so that would be a good indication if he was still alive or not. That very fact reasoned with him as a great relief, but the barbed wire said otherwise. Stupid barbed wire. Conundrums like these are why some men turned back into teenagers, but had lost their inner child somewhere on the way back down. The answer was simple: in between the barbs LJ must, as a newly calcinated person, transverse the hanging wire. Hazed. Simple answers almost never provided a simple action to solve a problem, especially with this one pair of family jewels were at stake. Now that was an emergency.

As ridiculous as it was, he proceeded to put his future kids and pride at stake. One foot up. One hand on. And another hand on. Balance. Balance! One foot still left on the ground.  And . . . push up! Gyrations of getting stabilized were almost in sync. Most of the time gyrations fought each other in the body, worked in opposites but not here. Not now. The act of body stabilization on a single piece of barbed wire was not so stable, ever. A shaky one at best, to finally put his last foot on the wire in between another set of barbs. At least LJ’s testicles weren’t on a barb. No, not this time, not ever . . . hopefully. Two hands on the wire. Two feet on the wire. A lot of small back and forths to stay upright. Craziness. Now what? Got. To. Get down, off to the other side, onto the path to proceed to . . . what exactly? It didn’t matter because future bullets raced past in between the trees and onto the other side of the path. People screaming, “ELLLL JAAAAY!! ELLLL JAAAAY!!!”, as if they were looking for him. It wouldn’t be best to have physical followers in this situation. Or would it? Nope. Shaking. Shaking. Shaking. Shaking. Arms, body and legs shaking together, trapped on top of a piece of wire. Getting down was never as easy as going up! Sometimes, something drastic had to happen to make it over to the other side of a calcination experience . . . and barbed wire.

LJ yanked his body at once, in a sideways flip and landed back on his feet, right on top of the trenchy, dirty path. 

Camino, LJ thought.

Camino is Spanish for path. For Italians, it means fireplace or chimney.

And a fiery path it was.

LJ wished the path was a old river so it could deliver him to the deep blue sea. But, that wasn’t a good answer either. Something was missing. Probably a lot of things. He started walking the direction of right, instead of left on the path, with his nuts safely where they should be. And, the rain was pouring down. No one could stop him. No one. They didn’t need to, it would have been frivolous activity. But, he was cold, even deep on the inside. Almost like hypothermia setting in. He wasn’t sure if it was actually cold or his energy was unsustainably low and feelings of drought coldness turned worse as he kept walking on the path, in between the trees.

Cultural phemomons could get through this. LJ wondered how bright and colorful that could be even though he was already a celebrated race winner. Would all this add to that for him? It was never known, like playing roulette all night, every night.

[ Image Source: giphy.com ]

This has to be an experiment of some sort, he thought. They are going to pay for this. Whoever THEY are. Rascals at best.

Unpaid, free work is offensive in most places, besides jail. Even then, most places in the United States of America gave you something for it. Free lunch or early release, even. However, this felt like way more than just work to LJ. Some people he knew hired people on Saturdays for strange purposes like making sandwich diagrams on a piece of cardboard for a trade show. Other times it was for writing a three piece stanza that five other people would turn into 30 songs in hope of making a hit. It rarely worked, but when it did, there were lots of money to be had. He didn’t know about the last part until his friend slipped him a silent note about it, about the money, when one particular Sunday everyone else was asleep. Shit, maybe the guy that slipped the note was asleep, too. Duh. Hooligans, the lot of ’em.

The path ended inclined and straight into a rolling pasture with beef cows. They flipped their tails, ate grass gracefully chomping and minding their own business. Not caring about LJ’s presence at all. No response. Not even a single atom of attention from cows? Come! On!

Weather had blown over to create a high-pressured blissy air.

Then, LJ yelled out, “Help! Help me!” as he stomped, rocking back and forth forward, hoping for the assistance that he needed so badly. Anyone’s help would do more than wandering aimlessly through whatever the frack this was. Frickin’ frack! No one needed a frack. Puke, frothy projectile vomit right past a cow. Chain reactions were no longer useful. Glass was, but still no mirrors anywhere. Makes no sense.

A man emerged from the house and looked at LJ like he was a ghost. LJ didn’t really know how he looked. No mirrors or household gadgetry to speak of or speak into. None of that. It was rubbish anyways, just like the stuff that surrounded that, whatever it was. They ruined it all so far with coffee. How could coffee ruin so many experiences? Cows don’t drink coffee. Maybe they could fix this.

“Man, you, you are ma-ma-mmm-messed up, aren’t you?” the helpful man shuddered while waving.

“No, I’m not,” LJ said with no emotion.

“Well, I can’t tell. Come inside. Come inside. Get a blanket. We can call someone to come help you.”

LJ followed the man inside what looked like a hoarder’s house, four cats scattered in different directions, and then he sat on the dirty couch. The man returned with a blanket covered in cat hair. LJ covered with it, not quite yet warm and the helpful man handed LJ the phone and he dialed Rom’s number.


© 2020-2021, S.D. McKinley

←PREVIOUS CHAPTER FIVE: FIRE IN HEAVEN

NEXT CHAPTER SEVEN: ROM IT UP→

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Resources

The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy of Personal Transformation – An Excerpt

The Fire-Breathing Dragon, Page 170

“The first of seven operations of alchemy is Calcination, the heating and pulverization of a solid to drive off water and other volatile compounds. What is left is a small pile of desiccated white ashes, and the alchemists referred to this process of reduction as “The Fire-Breathing Dragon who drinks water.” Since moisture and volatility are symbolic of the libido and emotions, the alchemists were acknowledging a basic fact of the human condition: As we mature and are heated by the natural forces of existence, we tend to lose contact with our own life force. The older we get and the more “adulterated” we become, the less psychic energy we have available. By middle age, many people feel they have lost a precious part of themselves and are leading inauthentic and unproductive lives. Our souls have despaired trying to survive in a world of spiritual drought.” Dennis William Hauck, The Emerald Tablet

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Other Reviews

Review: A Good Couple by M.C. Tuggle

Preview for A Good Couple by M.C. Tuggle.

Today, I have the honor to review / analyze a flash fiction story by M.C. Tuggle, titled A Good Couple, published by Idle Ink ( ⇺ Read the story here, before proceeding to the review. It’s not long, less than 1000 words ). This crafty work captures the essence of tragedy, a protagonist is employed in a profession of passion and is at least partly responsible for, not realizing that something very bad will happen that he could have possibly prevented, even should have done something about it. Possibly, a talk could have prevented the tragedy. Or, does it mean more than that?

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Web Serial

Web Serial: L&R #2: CHAPTER FIVE: FIRE IN HEAVEN

New to the web serial? Check out the table of contents.

WAIT!? LOOK OUT! IT’S THE ELUSIVE, RANDOM DISCO BALL. AHHHH! HEAVY METAL DISLIKES IT STRONGLY!! 🤣

CHAPTER FIVE:

FIRE IN HEAVEN


When LJ and Vic would exchange memories on Saturday nights after a couple of glasses of Merlot, they disagreed about when they first met. This memory, however, outlines the first time LJ remembered ever meeting Vic.

The leaves fell and the breeze was indecisive, but when it blew, it sent that one leaf skidding across the parking lot on its extremities, making a wretched noise. LJ sat outside, by himself drinking coffee at a local coffee shop that specialized in creating the perfect coffee-candy mixtures. LJ’s favorite, called “Fire in Heaven”, a perfect blend of whole milk, dissolved Atomic Fireballs and Italian roast coffee. Not only his favorite, but also the drink of choice for the day he would meet Vic. Like most other days, he preferred to be alone because his own thoughts were often more entertaining than conversations with others. At some point, he did realize this was a bit selfish, possibly left him out of some favorable options in his life, but long ago decided against being so unselfish out of lack of time and an internal urgency to do everything he wanted to do before his time was up. Not only was his time valuable, but also in short supply. Now, on the off chance that he could interact with someone that enthused him, he tried, over and over again with a constant hope for an engaging interaction, even if he had tried before. Everyone deserves a second and third chance, right? But ten chances, not so much.

He took a sip of steaming “Fire in Heaven” and glanced over to see a boisterous female exiting the door. She was holding up her coffee as if it was a trophy singing Possession by Sarah McLachlan. Odd, he thought. Most people haven’t heard of that song, but she’s singing it. Plus three points. Then, LJ decided to sing his own song in light of another mental point that would be discarded.

“Look at you, with your brand new shoes, brand new shoes, brand new shoes. Look at that girl with her brand new shoes. I didn’t buy ‘em for you,” LJ sang back with tacky fluidity.

“Ooh, a singer. Can’t say that I heard that song before though,” Vic teased, varying pitch. “How are you, Jimmy?”

“The name’s LJ, not Jimmy. Do I know you? Nice shoes, by the way.”

“What? You don’t remember me? Oh, come on,” Vic laughed. 

“Oh, yeah. Please forgive me. I. . .don’t remember your name?” LJ squinted.

“Victoria. But, you can call me Vic,” she responded with a bright smile. “Whatcha drinkin’ there buddy?”

“Fire in Heaven,” LJ said. “I love it. You?”

“Peppermint Madness, and I love it, too.”

“Na. Fire in Heaven is way better.”

Vic, hypnotic, looked LJ in the eyes and tapped him on the nose. “Your confidence precedes your reputation, sir, and yes, that’s what I’m saying, wild man. I was just trying it. Yours is way better.”

“Well,” LJ paused, “your charisma precedes your reputation, ma’am.”

“Hmph. Call me ma’am again and I’ll show you how big a woman I really am. Whatcha been doing? Asking all your friends about me? I thought you didn’t know me.”

LJ cleared his throat and said, “Hmph. Well, okay, Vic,” and ended by taking another drink.

LJ and Vic’s small spark potentiated into a flame; Vic took control of this heavenly flame and looked into LJ’s eyes. The ties that bind led Vic into that first, succulent kiss. Unfortunately for Vic, LJ hadn’t quite swallowed his coffee and that first kiss came quite unexpected, a clean interaction until he attempted to swallow the liquid sitting in his mouth. Breathless, he choked. The coffee spewed all over Vic; Atomic Fireball coffee, all in her mouth, face and running down her jacket.

“Oh-ma Geee-od!” Vic spouted. “I didn’t . . . Ah, geez . . . was it me?”

The look on Vic’s face turned into a mixture of inconclusiveness. She thought to herself about the different times she had gotten embarrassed in the past, stacking present emotion on top of memory, unfairly. She refrained from showing any more emotion until she could tell exactly what just happened. Vic looked at LJ and saw a similar confusion.

“It’s okay, LJ.” She paused. “I always wanted to kiss a fire breathing dragon in heaven, anyways,” Vic said to LJ and smiled.

Synergy brought laughter together. LJ grabbed a hold of a strand of Vic’s hair and leaned in for another kiss. Just before he landed his lips on Vic’s he circled his tongue around her mouth, licking the spilled coffee mess running down Vic’s face. They continued kissing while walking, hung up like two dogs, moving toward the outside table for some napkins. The sun peeked out from the drifting clouds and shone down upon the concrete while LJ wiped Vic’s face and jacket clean.

“Here’s my number. Call me later,” Vic said, handing a piece of scribbled napkin to LJ, walking backwards in bliss.

As the importance of the memory faded from LJ’s mind, he thought briefly about how his relationship with Vic ended the same exact way it began: with a messy kiss.


© 2020, S.D. McKinley

←PREVIOUS CHAPTER FOUR: THE DEPTHS OF YOUR OWN

Well, I haven’t got much evidence of anyone reading this serial, yet. Anyone have any thoughts, praise, questions, rude or snide remarks? I’m not one of those authors that think there work shouldn’t be critiqued! I’d like to think I’d at least hear-out anything short of hatred. I also understand everyone is very busy. But if you are crunched at least read chapter four and let me know what you think? 😀

This web serial is going on hiatus for the holidays and I really wasn’t expecting Vic to die at all, so I have some stuff to re-write as well. But, her death is prophesied in book #1, in the jhaman fight scene. Vic’s death was a bit emotional, made me sad. 😥

Guys, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley

Categories
Web Serial

Web Serial: L&R #2: CHAPTER FOUR: THE DEPTHS OF YOUR OWN

New to the web serial? Check out the table of contents.


CHAPTER FOUR:

THE DEPTHS OF YOUR OWN


Now, they came to a clearing in the rubbish. Carefully poured and detailed cement lined the floor surrounding a body of pool water, emitting a blue fluorescence and a muffled droning from below it’s own surface.

The water cast a verse in the form of refracted and dancing light patterns determined by second-hand-inspiration from some carefully selected song, lining up in significance with time and space. This sacred song was sung in place of a specific message, indueful of irony and when it spoke it did so not with words or singing voice but as if instigated by a rogue divinity looking for low hanging fruit to nab and dabble with on it’s way toward a downward spiral of destruction. Like an insidious plan with the intention to instill a becoming truth and to pass the blame for something gone terribly wrong. Stoically, the darkness devoured places once held by brilliancy and integrity. It trickled up from below and met with its counterpart, lifting a breath of celestine duality and bleeding itself into the spaces in between where light once shone, in perfect tune and never doubtful for its role in the present or its outcome in the future.

Some metal rods lifted via suspension cables from the metal case, deep inside the water. The word emergency lost it’s well known meaning for an arcane one as the droning, small gas bubbles, irradiated light and steam rose.

LJ gazed into the water.

Vic stared at LJ.

LJ turned his focus on Vic.

Now, something more formed at the surface of the water. A fermented black spot stacked on the depths of its own shadow, where mystic hate rolled over on itself.

“Vic, Vic,” LJ alerted. “What is . . . that?”

Vic turned around to see.

A veiled, devilish woman rose out of the black spot in the water.

“The fifth cycle is complete. Welcome to the depths of your own, Aquarian one,” the veiled woman said.

“LJ, who the frack is this?” Vic said, tugging on LJ’s stretchy, neoprene arm.

“How should I know? She feels familiar, though.”

“Oh, hell na. Not this, LJ. That’s what men say when they like another woman, ‘You look familiar’, but you said ‘she feels familiar’. That’s way worse.”

“It’s nothing like that,” LJ was interrupted by the veiled woman.

“Pursue your heart, for I will deliver the message. I have taken the breath of another, so that you can proceed. Now, speak your heart’s desire, Aquarian one.”

“Mmm kay. Friggin’ weirdos. Geez,” Vic said.

“Vic, don’t you think we need to take this seriously? We have no idea what we are dealing with, here.” LJ cleared his throat. A bead of sweat ran down his forehead, then he responded to the veiled woman. “We want out of this thing. We want to find Rom and Marlon. I want my body back. And Dom’s been shrunk into a 50 cent play toy. Can you fix all that for us?”

“Be that of your own, Aquarian one. For the things that will will, and the things that have passed are done.”

“Hm. I don’t like the sound of that at all,” LJ said.

“Red flag. That was a rhetorical question, I’m guessing?” Vic snarled at the veiled woman. “I was expecting something like ‘There’s nine billion people in the world. At any given time, approximately five thousand of them are actually doing something totally new. The other eight billion, nine hundred ninety nine million, blah, blah, blah are on repeat of something already done, meaning their life is just a repercussion of something not new. Simply metaphorical record players, if you will.'”

LJ’s face melted. Embarrassed, he stopped, nervous and frozen, scowling at Vic underneath the surface.

The veiled woman tilted her head to the side, like a perturbed mantis, gazing into Vic’s eyes with an evolving perversion of lust. But this, it blanketed the definition of lust, craving the space between a wink and a tear, where death blossoms.

The veiled woman’s body stretched forward, profusely salivating. Vampiric thirst dialed in as drool flowered forth, reaching on its own manic will toward Vic.

Boom.

An amplified kiss of death, delivered only by this perverse triangle of experience. Their saliva met and energy blasted like sunlight through a tightly tilted magnifying glass, aimed straight through Vic’s chest.

Vic’s heart melted. Literally.

Bloody, gurgling screams.

Her heart congealed into a boiling, purulent mess, singeing through her other organs inside her body. It became so hot that it burned a hole all the way through the thoracic section of her esophagus and then part of her lungs. This was the immediate cause of death. But if that wasn’t enough, the air imploded, agony and steaming-hot water rushed in through perforated orifices as she fell into immersion with a gurgling gasp.

Futile, she became the heaviest item in the solution of radiation, pool water, saliva, blood and other boiling, bodily discharge of varying caliber, ejected through her screams that rang all the way through to obscurity and back again. But, even though LJ couldn’t do anything to save face, even so he tried, out of pure instinct and jumped into the water, attempting to swim down to retrieve Vic but couldn’t even go as far as to even submerge his head in the water, for his buoyant body simply wouldn’t allow it; the hot water would’ve burnt the only human-like part left of his body. Vic spasmed at the bottom of the pool as he looked down through distorted refraction.

Such a wretched place in existence, to immerse yourself in the water of horrid death of your loved one at the depths with such thick, extinctive aromas. LJ wailed, groaned, yammered and bobbled in the water, looking up at the veiled woman; in desolate despair, as tears ran down his cheeks, adding to the solution of pool water and other unfathomable things. In any case, one could not help but have strong feelings of possible fault in a loved one’s death. But this was the darkest area of doubt than most reside in. Not just an area of ‘what role have I played here’ or ‘what could I have done to prevent this from happening’, but it was the deepest kind of uncertainty. One looming shadow left in LJ’s mind most heavy – ‘What in hell just killed my girlfriend?

Somehow through all the wailing, LJ found himself standing back beside the pool of water, unable to hold his own emotion. With his saliva still sticky, the skin on his face stretched thin and dry from the deluge of emotion. Then, he soul-gazed the veiled woman, in a bid of concentrated hatred.

“Do you wish to go home now, Aquarian one?” the veiled woman said.

LJ so desperately wanted to go home, but he got a sense that the veiled woman’s definition of home was somehow different than what he knew of, something that didn’t have a couch or television. A trick question, perhaps, he thought. LJ hesitated.

Like drops of water, the veiled woman separated into two. A sleeping, burly man appeared. He mumbled, bumbled and murmured his sleepy mantras.

“Three A.M.? Is it three, yet?” More staticy noise escaped his mouth. “Why? Haven’t you started cooking . . . Steak? Ah, yes. I’ll take three of ‘em. I’ll take three steaks at exactly three AM, medium-well. Yes,” the burly man said, building hungry, sleepy ideas on top of one another inside his lofty head. “Put them on three different plates. That’ll stack up nicely, right in mah belly. Mmmmm,” he groaned.

The veiled woman growled and hissed in disgust, then stomped some energy beneath her, splashing water all over the burly man, awakening him out of the slumber. LJ saw in front of him, but couldn’t quite process anything. Nothing but a pure red color pummeled all the way down his train of thought. The room spun and memories of Vic poured into his mind along with doubts about how her death would sound if he told the truth about what just happened. No one would believe me, he thought. However, that manic uncertainty fell to a lower priority in his vulnerable mind; his brain’s attempt to hold onto what Vic was, recalled memories about when they met.


© 2020, S.D. McKinley

←PREVIOUS CHAPTER THREE: JOURNEY TO THE DEPTHS

NEXT: CHAPTER FIVE: FIRE IN HEAVEN →

Guys, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley

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Web Serial: L&R #2: CHAPTER THREE: JOURNEY TO THE DEPTHS

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CHAPTER THREE:

JOURNEY TO THE DEPTHS


“The way the light dances on the walls is amazing. Vic. Look at it,” LJ said with his nose against the wall, looking closely at a pattern of dancing photons. He sat atop a samely lit square and the brilliancy delivered dispondance to make out any intracacies of the large room.

LJ hopped down off the square, “You ever feel like you are in play, Vic?”

“What, like a broadway play?” Vic replied.

“Yes, but not similar in some regards. Like someone has set this all up for us, premeditated the whole thing,” LJ said.

“Who would do that? We aren’t all that important,” Vic said.

“I have no idea . . . ,” LJ said, while walking toward the opposite end of the room. As he walked, he noticed a sliver of something on the wall and then stopped to analyze what it was.

“Hey, Vic. Over here. There’s a slit in the wall,” LJ said. “I can see through to the other side,” LJ said and reached to investigate.

“Ow! Oh-er my god. Something bit my hand,” LJ bellowed.

“LJ! Are you okay?” Vic blurted. “What’s wrong, LJ? Tell me! Well, you aren’t bleeding . . . ”

“Ah, ma GOD. It hurts!” LJ looked down at his hand in a blank stare. “Just joking. Gotcha,” LJ said, as to incite a riot.

“What’s wrong with you? You scared the bajeezus outta me,” Vic said, strongly.

LJ pulled the slit in the wall, lifting it wider. Then, they climbed through to the other side.

Luminiferous aether sat thick with endless, perfect rows of constructed metal pipes lined up and away, as far as the eye could see. Wooden boards sat in random places atop of the steel beams, scattered throughout different heights. Scaffolding, but nothing being directly constructed. The scaffolds were there to . . . build more scaffolds? A hollow purpose for no cause, it would seem. But, the purpose of building scaffolds to simply just build more scaffolds would still eliminate the exact purpose for having scaffolds in the first place. A conundrum of the worst kind, like a snake eating its own tail. Even so, LJ and Vic proceeded.

“Aliens,” LJ said.

“What?”

“Gotta be space aliens. I’ve watched enough TV to know who is causing all this.”

“And how do you figure that?” Vic questioned.

“Because, when it isn’t explainable, it must be aliens. The guy that needs to fix his hair says it all the time.”

Vic laughed. “I’m sticking to my theory. This is an illusion of some sort. Can’t be real.”

“It’s real, Vic. Don’t you see it? Feel it? Touch the steel piping to see how real it is. It’s cold, just like steel is supposed to be.” LJ thumped one of the galvanized, steel beams as it rang. “Even sounds like steel.”

“Well if it’s aliens, I’m sure they won’t like you tapping on their stuff.”

“Ah, gaslighting in conjunction with fear of the unknown . . . I’m onto you, Vic,” LJ smiled and winked. His thoughts about Vic kindled flames of unfavorable sentiment.

LJ and Vic continued walking through the maze of steel pipes and wooden boards.

“Let’s say it is an illusion, where are we really, then? And if this is all an illusion, what’s to say everyday life isn’t either?” LJ turned around, while walking, toward Vic.

“Well then, we are in a dome, hooked up to wires, possibly the same way Dom was in a dream recorder.”

“Are you saying they had him hooked up to the dream recorder and we were already in a dream? Hmm. Or, we could actually be in the astral realm and awake with our physical bodies? Mystical ascension, I think they call it. Maybe the house was somewhat of a Jacob’s Ladder or modern-day Tower of Babel? Wait . . . we did climb down the ladder, didn’t we, Vic? Have you ever heard of a Jacob’s Ladder that descends?” LJ grimaced.

“Here’s one more, something to think about. Think of a color, any color. How would I absolutely be sure that I am seeing the color the same way you do? I know it’s blue, you know it’s blue, but how do we prove that I don’t see red the same way you see blue?”

“Focus, LJ. If they were even recording his dreams. For all we know, it was just a show. They were messing with us. The video on the screen wasn’t Dom’s dreams, just a video. Fake news. There’s no such thing as the astral plane or realm; it’s all a product of your own brain.”

“Well, when people sleep the brain does produce DMT, some people call it the spirit molecule, it’s in everything, but what’s the possibility that the chemical lets your spirit travel to the astral realm or other places in the universe, to the afterlife even? Our brains produce it when we die, too. That’s scientific” LJ paused. “Do you realize what that means if they did make a dream recorder, Vic?” LJ’s outward appearance became a bit anomalous. “I mean, whoever they are, right?”

“Let me get one thing straight. You think the dream recorder is real? Is that what you think, LJ?” Vic looked into LJ’s eyes for a real, tangible answer as if some kind of timed result hinged on it. “Well if whatch’ur saying is true, about the DMT, then what’s the chance we were dosed somehow and now just hallucinating?”

“I’m not sure. I feel completely lucid. And, why does that matter if I think the dream recorder is real or not? What bothers me even more is that Rom and I were talking about a dream recorder not long ago. And, I swear, please do not repeat this to anyone, but, yeah, we were just saying if you want to be the richest person in the world, just invent a dream recorder. Think about it, Vic. Most people hide in their cozy places, traveling between each destination in a car on a man made road, then at night watching movies that someone else created, or working on some disillusioned project because they feel restless, mostly because their boss, mom or spouse just wants them to be busy. Surfing the internet and drinking their brewed coffee drinks – as much of a product of their own creation as the things created by others. A lot of people would be totally consumed by dream recording technology and dream interpreting services would skyrocket in the process. ‘DreamTube.com, number one site on the internet’,” LJ said, ending with a lower voice.

“Absolute bonkers.”

“What, you don’t believe me?” LJ said, straight to the punch.

“That’s not it. The whole idea is bonkers. Recording your dreams? Just the idea of doing that seems crazy to me. Almost like the technology is harvesting your dreams, thieving them in a way.” Vic scrunched her eyebrows as if scorn over the dream recorder wasn’t the only sideways idea running around in her head. “And, are you saying that just by talking about a dream recorder, this is all your fault?”

“Na, more like someone or something wants us to think that. A lame attempt at a manufactured scapegoat.” LJ took a deep breath. “Someone once told me if you have a bad dream not to tell anyone about it, pretty sure he was crazy, but it’s interesting to think about why that might be a bad idea.” 

They continued navigating through the steel beams. 

“Vic, how much of your dreams do you actually remember? Or, you remembered when you first woke up, but then forgot shortly after. When is the last time you dreamt and remembered everything that happened from start to finish? I can only think of maybe one time I have remember the beginning of any of my dreams. A dream recorder would change all that. It would change the world. I mean, I’m surprised someone hasn’t written a book about it, since a lot of times you hear about ideas in literature first and then in reality. Arthur C. Clarke did it with satellites.”

“Haha, LJ. Now you sound like a salesman. I’m sure it would just contribute to the continual fall of our human condition. TVs, internet. I don’t think much good has come out of any of it.” Vic paused. “How would you record someone’s dreams anyway? I wonder if what you see in your dreams, your eyes are actually seeing it or it’s purely in your imagination? If so, in order to record a dream, you would have to record what the person is seeing and hearing. If that’s true, it means that the device could record everyday life, too.”

LJ interrupted, “Oh, come on, Vic. I thought you were better than this. I think it’s pretty much common knowledge that things aren’t bad or good. It’s what we do with them.” LJ paused in disappointment and then inhaled deeply.

“Advanced technology is more susceptible to be misused. Imagine a world with technology that isn’t so narcissistic. Like, technology created to make life better, instead of dragging us down. All of it seems like great ideas and are often wondrous until they are tainted by money hungry creators and modifiers. The money fuels quick and immoral methods for using these devices to do nothing but generate cash flow or power. If it doesn’t create cash flow, even if it potentially made everyone’s life better, it’s promptly snuffed out. So, technology is great when it’s not fueled by the money and power hungry machines of bureaucracy. The same thing will happen with the dream recorder, if it’s real.” Vic paused. “At what point is something considered divine and not to be tainted by greed and power?”

“Ha. Sounds like you might be fighting the universe on that one, Vic,” LJ said.

LJ and Vic marched on for some time through open space on the floor, other times in between steel pipes and other obstructions. Eventually, the constructive apparatuses complicated with low hanging rags and large, diagonal concrete pillars. It spiraled inward, growing thick toward the destination, converging into a configuration that made for difficulties for navigation. At times, this forced LJ and Vic to crawl through uncomfortable, close spaces. Dripping, the hot-thickness of aether caused enough water to form on random spots, descending throughout.


© 2020, S.D. McKinley

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NEXT CHAPTER FOUR: THE DEPTHS OF YOUR OWN →

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Guys, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley

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Web Serial: L&R #2: CHAPTER TWO: A 50 CENT PLAY TOY

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CHAPTER TWO: A 50 CENT PLAY TOY


That one kick, and the dome popped like a cork from the floor, dwindling into the size of a plastic gumball machine container as it flew. The container landed right in LJ’s hand, encapsulating an also shrunken Dom inside its shell.

“Great. Just great, Vic. Now Dom’s turned into a 50 cent play toy.” LJ said.

Vic tapped on the small plastic capsule to get a better grasp at what lay behold. Astounded, she stammered and then couldn’t speak.

“Easy. You’ll hurt ‘em,” LJ said.

Vic came in, pulling LJ into her aura. “LJ,” Vic paused. “Look down at yourself. You aren’t even really there.”

LJ looked down at his body. Now, it only consisted of the material that made up a neoprene pool float. He wondered how it could possibly be; as far as he could tell he felt just fine, even with the absence of a proper body.

“See, I told you,” Vic said.

“I am too here, Vic! I still got my head on, don’t I?”

“Yup.”

“Dom, from now on, or at least until you return to normal, your name will be ‘gumball Dom’,” LJ said, smirking, deflecting Vic toward something more than his own affliction.

“Yeah, and what’ll we call you? Lil’ Jimmy’s head on a pool float?,” Vic joked, slapping LJ on the back.

LJ grimaced. He despised when someone touched him, much less a slap, where he couldn’t see, when someone called him ‘Jimmy’, and much, much less when they put a Lil’ on the front. LJ slipped gumball Dom inside his neoprene body, away into a comfy crevasse, safe and sound. It seemed like the natural thing to do, he thought. 

“There, safe and sound,” LJ said as he patted his cushy side.

Then came somewhat of a poor realization. No, it didn’t hit him like a ton of bricks or even one brick, it hit him rather like a soft and stormy rain cloud not-quite-ripe to burst with downpour. Himself, Vic, Rom, Marlon, the strange man behind the privacy glass before he cast his first magic spell all seemed superfluous now. Yes, even Vic. Judging from the way the room kept moving they were floating, either in some kind of body of water or through the sky. Just like Dom did some moments ago, LJ recalled recent events trying to line them up with possibly going to sleep and not waking up. Maybe he was actually dreaming and didn’t die at all. Last time he remembered sleeping was at the FireSpot campsite and he did awake from sleep, he was sure of it. Even so, he continued to search for answers, naturally.

Ah-hah! Eureka. The card; the eight of diamonds. That must have been it. It had hit him in the face in his dream and then appeared by the campfire. The product of dreams. LJ reached to his pocket to get the card but there was no back pocket, only a squishy, smooth mass. He reached through his body right where he had put gumball Dom inside, and rummaged around. His gun was nowhere to be found. But, yes. There it was, the eight of diamonds, exactly what he was looking for. He pulled it out, took a glance and put it back inside. On second thought, was it the card’s fault all this was happening? Or perhaps the card was lucky and that was the reason that they had saved Dom and made it here at all. Possibly all of it, futile notions.

Now, a soft green-glowing hole, where Dom’s pod was, gazed back at LJ and Vic with a warm smirk. They took a quick moment to discuss and wonder where the hole in the floor might lead, whether traveling through it might or might not lead to their demise and most importantly, hopefully to a way out. Climbing in, which would lead further down, was not the way to go. LJ and Vic wanted to go up, back to the Mitsubishi Lancer so they could escape this thing and bring Dom back to his comfy home, where he belonged. Surely everything would come back together in Dom’s rock star life if he could just make it back home and get back with the band?

“Stick yer arm in that hole, Vic. Make sure it doesn’t eat it,” LJ said.

Vic chuckled. “This is like a big fun house or something. Oh sure, you want me to stick my arm in there? And what’ll you get for your efforts? Boyfriend of the year award? At least if it toasts your neoprene arm off, or it leaves a swath of chocolate pudding all over it, then maybe you can still have your real arm back when we make it out of this hell hole,” Vic replied.

Vic or LJ couldn’t see anything past the opening, not what was in it or where it led to. Vic slowly put her hand towards the hole, feeling for temperature changes or other anomalies. None, except the green light was so extraordinary it swallowed her arm whole.

“You go in first, LJ,” Vic said, softly. “Is it a portal?”

“There’s no telling what’s on the other side,” LJ replied. “I got one more. Have you ever acted like you understood something, but you really didn’t?”

“No. Never. That is a recipe for disaster,” Vic ran her fingers along the rim of the hole. “LJ, don’t portals always suck you in, though?” she questioned him with a slanted tease. She knew what kind of answer to expect back when asking such a half-baked question.

“Not always. Haven’t I told you this before? Nothing doesn’t exist and neither does always. They are bad words as far as I’m concerned, worse than all the four letter cuss words. I want you to give me one example where always exists. Show me where nothing is! I want to see it. And Honestly, I’m not sure if it’s a portal. I think it’s obvious if we don’t go through it, we will die,” LJ said and then disappeared into the green-lit hole.

“I know where nothing is. Check between your ears, idiot,” Vic whispered to herself and then jumped into the holey-abyss after LJ.


© 2020, S.D. McKinley

←PREVIOUS CHAPTER ONE: GET THE *BEEP* OUT

NEXT: CHAPTER THREE: JOURNEY TO THE DEPTHS →

Guys, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley

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Web Serial: L&R #2: CHAPTER ONE: GET THE *BEEP* OUT

New to the web serial? Check out the table of contents.


CHAPTER ONE: GET THE *BEEP* OUT


Deep as the October sun, Dom’s eyes opened, revealing irises that could hold a universe all their own. The seconds between when his eyes opened and the realization came that he was trapped in a plastic dome, sent energy from the part of his brain that induces anxiety, – the amygdala – then, finally releasing dynorphin through the synaptic receptors. Thoughts of not knowing what happened in between the gas station parking lot and waking up under the dome brought waves of fear and panic that anyone could have done anything to him while he was out-cold. Being prodded, poked, or probed had no favor in his wishes for himself.

Recent, light-weighted memories flashed through his mind, like they often do after waking and first thinking of a dream. Human brains are well-oiled machines, but don’t know if memories were actually a dream or not until it connects the dots with other memories and categorizes them. You may know the feeling – autonomous mind mechanisms attempting to piece together links from other memories to establish a place in waking life just after getting up from dreaming in deep sleep. The memories of waking life should connect with going to sleep or waking up. They also should make sense – it’s the same type of semi-autonomous mind retrieval function that helps a person remember that one word on the tip of their tongue after not thinking about it for some time.

Nothing came to Dom rather fast and it didn’t link up with any other recent memories when he was awake. Must have been another dream, Dom thought.

My insightful aspiration . . .

Dom’s finger tips swept the underside perimeter of the dome looking for a way out. He ripped the sticky electrode pads off of his body and pushed upward against the dome with his legs, attempting to break free.

“Wholedon, wa gwonna ket yugh ougt,” LJ said. Dom couldn’t understand the words.

Two feet abruptly landed on top of the dome. LJ looked straight down through the dome at Dom and barked some more incomprehensible words while batting his feet on the plastic.

Catch-22, LJ thought. He remembered a book he once read by the same name, Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. Little known fact was that the popular American-english phrase was coined from the title of this book and not the other way around. Catch-22 meant being in a situation that you can’t get out of because of contradictory limitations. Except this was the worst kind of catch-22 because it wasn’t a logical catch-22 or even a catch-22 that resulted from rules or authority. This was a physical catch-22 . . . trapped in a room with nowhere to go.

“It can’t be that difficult, LJ. Just jump off my . . . ” Vic said.

“Yeah, but how do we get Dom out? Ugh, I’m sweatin’. Starting to get hot in here again,” LJ said.

He attempted to jump off of Vic’s clasped hands, and onto the wall and up to grab a hold of the hatch door at the top of the room to escape, but failed and landed back onto the dome with another thud.

In this room, the temperature wasn’t stable. Air was blowing through vents but, when it became hot it wasn’t enough air conditioning to bring the temperature down to a comfortable level. Twenty or so odd minutes later it would become very brisk and stifling, cold air continuing to blow just the same. Far from freezing cold, but in this room it made the blood run thick, bones heavy and difficult to move. On it’s own good time, the room wafted upward, sometimes downward, and rotated around in different directions.

“This has to be some kind of sick joke,” said LJ. “We spent all this time trying to get to Dom and now look at him. Look at us! We are trapped. Rom and Marlon, MIA.” He looked over at Vic. She was feeling all the crevasses of the cold, metal walls, around the windows and doors with her fingertips and palms looking for something, anything that would get Dom out and allow them to escape the room.

. . . is operational . . .

“Well, look on the bright side. Dom is alive; we are alive. I need to admit that something is very strange about this, LJ. I don’t think we are where we think we are. Everything feels different.” Vic finished talking just before a deep, groaning noise passed by, somewhere outside the room. “Just imagine looking into a perfect mirror and it was so perfect that you couldn’t tell it was a mirror,” Vic paused. “And, the mirror you are looking into is entangled, it is somewhere else altogether, existing in two places at the same time, reflecting the light from a distant place into our eyes. How would you know it wasn’t a mirror you were actually looking into instead of what you thought was in front of you? Could there be a mirror-type-insert device in our optical nerve or something?”

“ARE YOU SCREWING WITH ME VICTORIA? YOU SOUND LIKE A MANIAC. IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE.” LJ’s eyes widened. “Are we dead?”

LJ remembered reading an article somewhere in the deep corners of the internet about memory injection and replacement. It furthered his troubling thoughts. Thinking you might have died at some point and didn’t know it left scarring effects, forcing you to question everything around you, left you scanning distant memories, looking for a possible missed sign of death. Then, he forcibly convened in himself, just enough to be calm again. Besides, even if it was remotely true, nothing could be done about it.

“I promise to God, if I find out you are screwing with me, Vic . . .” 

LJ laid his hands upon his knees, hunched over in a hard breath. Compounding possibilities of ‘what’s really going on?’ raced through his mind. Was Vic really messing with him or was her question a valid one? What a dark notion to think the one closest to you would have anything to do with a grim situation like this. But, it happens every day. You turn on the TV, there’s some deranged story about a significant other, hell bent on destroying not only the relationship, but also the other significant other. One must weigh the possibility of being a part of such a situation, and while no one likes considering such things; how many souls did themselves an injustice by not thinking of it, by being in denial about something deranged and maliced was on the hunt for something to devour? What little faith that remained in LJ’s view of reality, it would be crushed if it was true. Make it not true, he thought.

. . . Now, I can dream, too.

“You have a lot of problems right now LJ, but I’m not one of them. I guarantee it,” Vic assured LJ.

“Oh yeah? So you are thinking I am making a problem out of you, huh? You are my easiest target right now? Well you are right. You are my only target. Now, here we are floating off to the afterlife in this thing. I left all my possessions. No more doors. No more keys. No more home. No more racing! Ugh, I haven’t been home in so long.” LJ said and hung his head low, a side-thought about how it would be nice to keep his worldly objects, even after death, keeping them inside a keepsake box of sorts, for use in the afterlife. But, he had none of it.

LJ kicked the metal wall. A thud sustained a loose echo into a brash, nothingness. Dom’s feet slammed the underside of the dome again. Now, something peculiar happened . . .


© 2020, S.D. McKinley

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NEXT: CHAPTER TWO: A 50 CENT PLAY TOY →

Guys, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley